Building a circular economy for biowaste

A main driver of our research is to help develop a circular economy for biowaste. We aim to learn about the tikanga and mātauranga Māori relevant to biowaste to inform the design of a circular biowaste management system. Much of this work is led by our Māori partners and we help to co-design an approach that is relevant to and respectful of te ao Māori.


In this video, Environmental Scientist and Microbiologist, Dr Kristin Bohm, describes ESR's Ōhanga Āmiomio/Circular Economy for Biowaste project. She talks about how the team is looking at using natural systems to create sustainable solutions for biowaste, and specifically how black soldier fly larvae can process biowaste into a usable product.


Using insects to recycle biowaste

The team is investigating the use of insect larvae of the species Black Soldier Fly to recycle biowaste. Results showed that Black Soldier Fly larvae eat nearly half of biosolids from a wastewater treatment plants in less than 20 days, without accumulating of heavy metals in their bodies. In a case of “kill two birds with one stone,” the larvae can be used to manage biowaste and recover resources that can then be used for other industries. Further research will determine which kind of high-value products can be made from the larvae. The results are key for transitioning to a circular economy where all the waste from wastewater treatment plants is revalued and reused. 

This research was done in collaboration with Brett Robinson at UC and partners at Prescient Nutrition provided the Black Soldier Fly larvae.

Containers holding organic waste and black fly larvae

Mature black fly larvae after feeding on biosolids